Ergonomics: A Competitive Edge

Do you often experience pain or discomfort in your body at work? Does it hamper your performance or productivity at work? If yes, then ergonomics can find the cause and solution to your problem.

Do you often experience pain or discomfort in your body at work? Does it hamper your performance or productivity at work? If yes, then ergonomics can find the cause and solution to your problem.

Ergonomics is the science of designing products, machines and systems to maximize the safety, comfort and efficiency of users. The best way to understand ergonomics is to view it in the context of technological advancement. Early human concerns with gathering food, protection from the environment, animals and other people probably provided the motivation to develop the first tool. Improving the performance meant improving the odds of survival for individuals and groups. From sticks and stones the human technology has progressed to complex systems and machines that we depend on today. Fueling this progression, especially since the industrial revolution is a complex web of economics and human knowledge, each of which play a significant role in development of ergonomics.

Ergonomics gained genuine importance after the World War II, when many air accidents were originally blamed on human error but subsequent investigation revealed that poorly designed pilot seating and controls were major contributing factors to these accidents. Today, the science of ergonomics has broadened to everyday tasks right from the designs of spoons, knives, chairs, TV remotes, shoes, screwdrivers, digital cameras, computers, cars etc. Ergonomics applies to almost any physical human activity, from operating machines to doing daily work. It is the faith in ergonomics that has totally changed the designs of the machines and instruments and the way we use them.

Industrial ergonomics has many significant implications for improving productivity, efficacy while considering the health and safety of individuals. It facilitates a smooth human-machine interaction. Ensuring healthy this interaction optimizes employee productivity, quality and also ensures comfort, safety and health. Many companies have joined this Ergonomics revolution by implementing the ergonomics program considering its long-term gains in the form of reduced absenteeism, high productivity and high moral between the employees.

Optimizing the performance of employees includes motivation, training, and compatibility with the work station design. An ergonomics program which ensures input and communication between all involved parties and individuals as it is crucial when optimizing the human-machine interaction. This type of organizational commitment and vision works well with similar competitive strategies, such as quality improvement programs.
Corporate organizations who have adopted a total quality management philosophy are well positioned to execute effective ergonomic management. Management dedication, both in terms of attitude and providing necessary resources, is essential to the process of ergonomic management.

Financial management is an essential component of an ergonomic process. According to circumstances the degree of financial support will change from organization to organization. As in many ergonomic problems can be solved with minor investments, in some organizations because of budget restriction, may have to limit ergonomic endeavors to a particular department or section rather than implementing ergonomic changes across the whole organization simultaneously. This “start small and grow” approach influenced by budget will produce measurable benefits.

Those organizations which wish to have a competitive edge in today’s marketplace, with its emphasis on quality and excellence, must embrace ergonomics management, recognizing its value as a cost reduction, quality improvement, performance improvement and productivity-enhancing process. Ergonomics management is both sensible goal and profitable business. The benefits of such optimization efforts are reflected in increased productivity and quality, also, the employee safety, health and comfort. A cost versus benefit analysis will lend credibility to arguments in favor of an ergonomic process.

By Dr. Pushkar Deshpande

(The author is an Ergonomic Consultant and Ergo-therapist and can be e-contacted at [email protected])

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